International Journal of Food Microbiology (INT J FOOD MICROBIOL )

Publisher: International Union of Microbiological Societies; International Union of Microbiological Societies. Committee on Food Microbiology and Hygiene, Elsevier


The International Journal of Food Microbiology publishes full-length original research papers, short communications, review articles and book reviews covering all aspects of microbiological safety, quality and acceptability of foods. Contributions dealing with the following fields are invited: bacteriology, immunology, mycology, parasitology, virology and food fermentation. Emphasis will be placed on papers dealing with microbiological quality assurance, intrinsic and extrinsic parameters of foods affecting microbial survival and growth, methods for microbiological and immunological examinations of foods, indices of the sanitary quality of foods, incidence and types of food microorganisms, food spoilage, microbiological aspects of food preservation, microbial interaction, predictive microbiology, food-borne diseases of microbial origin and the safety of novel food products. Achievements in rapid methods and automation in food microbiology are also included. It is a policy of this journal also to publish Proceedings of suitable meetings, workshops, conferences, etc. in the field of food microbiology. Related Conference Food Safety Objectives: Public Health, HACCP and Science will take place on December 4-5, 2000 at Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA. The conference will explore ways and means of improving food safety through Food Safety Objectives (FSOs) focussing on the following topics; Testing and Detection; Microbiology; Food Processing Technology; Public Health and Consumer Behavior. For details visit

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    International journal of food microbiology (Online)
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    • Publisher last contacted on 18/10/2013
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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hepatitis E infection is regarded as an emerging public-health concern. The disease is normally self-limiting (mortality rate 1%), but chronic infections have recently been observed in transplanted patients. The etiological agent HEV is a small RNA virus infecting both humans and animals. In humans, the disease may be food-borne and pig is a main reservoir for zoonotic strains. In the present study, we evaluated the presence of HEV and swine fecal cross-contamination in pork liver sausages sold at a grocery store in Italy. HEV genome detection was performed by RT-qPCR, using harmonized protocols that included a process control (murine norovirus) and an internal amplification control. Swine fecal cross-contamination was assessed by determination of the ubiquitous porcine adenovirus. Overall, HEV genome belonging to genotype 3 was detected in both raw (10 out of 45 slices, 250 mg each, 22.2%) and dry (1 of 23 slices, 4.3%) liver sausages, but infectivity of the virus was not demonstrated. This pilot study fosters more investigations on HEV presence in pork-derived food, to assess the possible risk for the consumers.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 01/2015; Volume 193:29-33.
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    ABSTRACT: A rapid and affordable PCR method for the detection of Debaryomyces hansenii.•This method permits to separate D. hansenii from D. subglobosus and D. fabryi.•No false results were detected among the 22 yeast species studied.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 01/2015; 193.
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    ABSTRACT: Penicillium verrucosum is a fungus that can produce ochratoxin A and citrinin, two structurally related nephrotoxic mycotoxins. P. verrucosum usually occurs on wheat but can occasionally also be found in NaCl rich habitats such as salted cheeses or olives, indicating that this fungus can adapt to different environments. The ratio of ochratoxin A to citrinin produced by P. verrucosum is shifted to one of either mycotoxin at the expense of the other dependent on the environmental conditions. High NaCl concentrations shift secondary metabolite biosynthesis towards ochratoxin A production. P. verrucosum copes with NaCl stress by increased ochratoxin A biosynthesis, ensuring chloride homeostasis. Ochratoxin A carries chlorine in its molecule and can excrete chlorine from the cell. It was further shown that the regulation of ochratoxin A by high NaCl conditions is mediated by the HOG MAP kinase signal transduction pathway. Here it is shown that high oxidative stress conditions, evoked for example by increasing concentrations of Cu2 + cations in the growth medium, shift secondary metabolite biosynthesis of P. verrucosum from ochratoxin A to citrinin. The production of citrinin normalizes the oxidative status of the fungal cell under oxidative stress conditions leading to an adaptation to these environmental conditions and protects against increased oxidative stress caused by increased Cu2 + concentrations. Moreover citrinin also protects against light of short wavelength, which may also increase the oxidative status of the environment. The biosynthesis of citrinin is apparently regulated by a cAMP/PKA signaling pathway, because increasing amounts of external cAMP reduce citrinin biosynthesis in a concentration dependent manner. These conditions lead to the cross-regulation of the ochratoxin A/citrinin secondary metabolite pair and support the adaptation of P. verrucosum to different environments.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: This work presents the first study on the bacterial communities in Pico cheese, a traditional cheese of the Azores (Portugal), made from raw cow's milk. Pyrosequencing of tagged amplicons of the V3–V4 regions of the 16S rDNA and Operational Taxonomic Unit-based (OTU-based) analysis were applied to obtain an overall idea of the microbiota in Pico cheese and to elucidate possible differences between cheese-makers (A, B and C) and maturation times. Pyrosequencing revealed a high bacterial diversity in Pico cheese. Four phyla (Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes) and 54 genera were identified. The predominant genus was Lactococcus (77% of the sequences). Sequences belonging to major cheese-borne pathogens were not found. Staphylococcus accounted for 0.5% of the sequences. Significant differences in bacterial community composition were observed between cheese-maker B and the other two units that participated in the study. However, OTU analysis identified a set of taxa (Lactococcus, Streptococcus, Acinetobacter, Enterococcus, Lactobacillus, Staphylococcus, Rothia, Pantoea and unclassified genera belonging to the Enterobacteriaceae family) that would represent the core components of artisanal Pico cheese microbiota. A diverse bacterial community was present at early maturation, with an increase in the number of phylotypes up to 2 weeks, followed by a decrease at the end of ripening. The most remarkable trend in abundance patterns throughout ripening was an increase in the number of sequences belonging to the Lactobacillus genus, with a concomitant decrease in Acinetobacter, and Stenotrophomonas. Microbial rank abundance curves showed that Pico cheese's bacterial communities are characterized by a few dominant taxa and many low-abundance, highly diverse taxa that integrate the so-called “rare biosphere”.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 01/2015; 192:86-94.
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    ABSTRACT: Cysts of the protozoan parasite Giardia have been detected in many bivalve shellfish species worldwide. The detection of zoonotic Giardia duodenalis assemblages A and B is of public health concern, yet there is limited data available demonstrating the bioaccumulation and elimination of Giardia cysts in bivalve shellfish. This study quantified G. duodenalis cysts that were filtered and retained by oysters (Crassostrea virginica) over a one week chronic exposure period, or 24 hour exposure followed by a 6 day depuration period, using static tank systems containing 10 L of 29 ppt water inoculated with 1000 or 10,000 cysts. Under chronic exposure, each oyster retained a mean of 13.4 and 87.4 cysts during the first 24 h of exposure at low and high doses, respectively, and the cysts bioaccumulated at a rate of 1.2 and 6.8 cysts/oyster/day, respectively, for the remaining duration of the trials. In acute exposure trials, oysters retained 13.8 cysts or 78.9 cysts at low and high doses, respectively, during the initial 24 hour exposure and naturally depurated cysts at a rate of − 0.92 cysts/oyster/day and − 2.2 cysts/oyster/day, respectively, after transfer. Although most G. duodenalis cysts were eliminated within the first 24 h via pseudofeces and feces, detection of some cysts in the fecal material on day 7 of acute exposure trials was indicative of cysts which passed through the digestive tract and released in feces. Only 48–53% of the initial tank inocula were recovered and may indicate that some cysts were selectively filtered by oysters but degraded through digestion.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 01/2015; 192:13–19.
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    ABSTRACT: A major hurdle in producing a useful probiotic food product is bacterial survival during storage and ingestion. The aim of this study was to test the effect of γ-PGA immobilisation on the survival of probiotic bacteria when stored in acidic fruit juice. Fruit juices provide an alternative means of probiotic delivery, especially to lactose intolerant individuals. In addition, the survival of γ-PGA-immobilised cells in simulated gastric juice was also assessed. Bifidobacteria strains (B. longum, B. breve), immobilised on 2.5 % γ-PGA, survived significantly better (P < 0.05) in orange and pomegranate juice for 39 and 11 days respectively, compared to free cells. However, cells survived significantly better (P < 0.05) when stored in orange juice compared to pomegranate juice. Moreover, both strains, when protected with 2.5 % γ-PGA, survived in simulated gastric juice (pH 2.0) with a marginal reduction (<0.47 log CFU/ml) or no significant reduction in viable cells after four hours, whereas free cells died within two hours. In conclusion, this research indicates that γ-PGA can be used to protect Bifidobacteria cells in fruit juice, and could also help improve the survival of cells as they pass through the harsh conditions of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Following our previous report on the use of γ-PGA as a cryoprotectant for probiotic bacteria, this research further suggests that γ-PGA could be used to improve probiotic survival during the various stages of preparation, storage and ingestion of probiotic cells. Keywords: Probiotics, γ-PGA, Bifidobacteria, fruit juice, simulated gastric juice.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Dry-cured sausages are colonised by moulds during the ripening process. The temperature and the salt content (which affects water activity, aw) predispose the surface to colonisation by Penicillium species, including Penicillium nordicum and Penicillium verrucosum which can lead to contamination of the sausages with ochratoxin A (OTA). The objective of this work was to obtain scientific data on the impact that interaction between ionic water stress (aw; 0.97, 0.94, 0.90, 0.87 and 0.84) and temperature (30, 25, 20, 15 and 10 °C) may have on lag phases prior to growth, growth and OTA production by some P. verrucosum and P. nordicum strains isolated from dry-cured meat products on a dry-cured sausage-based medium over a period of 12 days. Although P. nordicum had shorter lag phases than P. verrucosum, the latter grewfaster than P. nordicum in most conditions tested. For both species, there was no growth and OTA production at 0.84 aw at all the temperatures tested. The fungi were more tolerant at moderate ionic aw conditions (0.94 and 0.90) and 20 and 25 °C. In contrast, the patterns of production of OTA were very different from those for growth. Different OTA production profiles between the two OTA-producing species were found. While P. nordicum began producing OTA in most of the conditions tested by day 6, P. verrucosum only produced the toxin in these conditions when the temperature and aw were >10 °C and >0.90, respectively. However, the P. verrucosum strain produced much higher concentrations of OTA than the P. nordicum strain in all conditions. We developed contour maps of the optimum and marginal aw × temperature conditions for growth/OTA production on dry-cured sausage-based medium for the first time. This suggests that these interacting conditions during the early phases of production must be effectively controlled as these favour growth of the toxigenic Penicillia. Knowledge on the ecophysiology of these two important Penicillium species on these matrices could help to make appropriate technological modifications during the sausage ripening process. Thus, our findings may help in informed decision-making in relation to temperature and salt additions at the beginning of processing/curing. Such changes may favour colonisation of starter cultures over OTA producing Penicillia and minimise OTA contamination risks in dry-cured sausages. This may be then effectively incorporated into the hygienic production system in the framework of HACCP.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 11/2014; 194:71-77.
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    ABSTRACT: Source attribution based on microbial subtyping is being performed in many countries to ascertain the main reservoirs of human salmonellosis and to assess the impact of food safety interventions. To account for differences in exposure, the amount of food available for consumption within a country is often included in Salmonella source attribution models along with the level of contamination. However, not all foods have an equal probability of serving as vehicles for salmonellas, as some foods are more likely to be consumed raw/undercooked than others, posing a relatively higher risk. Using Salmonella data from the Netherlands in 2001–2004, this study aims at elucidating whether and how the incorporation of food consumption data in two source attribution models – the (modified) Dutch and Hald models – affects their attributions. We also propose the incorporation of an additional parameter to weight the amount of food consumed by its likelihood to be consumed raw/undercooked by the population. Incorporating the amount of food consumed caused a drastic change in the ranking of the top reservoirs in the Dutch model, but not in the Hald model, which proved to be insensitive to additional weightings given that its source-dependent factor can account for both food consumption and the ability for foods to serve as vehicles for salmonellas. Compared to attributions without food consumption, the Dutch model including the amount of food consumed showed an increase in the percentage of cases attributable to pigs and a decrease in that of layers/eggs, which became the second reservoir, after pigs. This was not consistent with established knowledge indicating that layers/eggs, rather than pigs, were the main reservoir of human salmonellosis in that period. By incorporating the additional weight reflecting the likelihood for different foods to be consumed raw/undercooked, the attributions of the Dutch model were effectively adjusted, both in terms of ranking and percent contributions of the different reservoirs. We concluded that incorporating food consumption data in the Dutch model can significantly affect the results. Therefore, such data should be either excluded from this model or used together with an additional weight able to adjust the amount of food consumed by its likelihood to be consumed insufficiently cooked. This may help identifying the correct reservoirs, allowing attributions to more closely reflect the real chance for a given food to serve as a vehicle for salmonellas. Conversely, the Hald model works properly irrespective of inclusion of food consumption data.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 11/2014; 191:109-115.
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    ABSTRACT: Boza is a cereal-based fermented beverage widely consumed in many countries of the Balkans. The aim of this study was to investigate the microbiota of three Bulgarian boza samples through a combination of culture-dependent and -independent methods with the long-term objective of formulating a multi-strain starter culture specifically destined for the manufacture of new cereal-based drinks. The isolation campaign for lactic acid bacteria (LAB) allowed the identification of Lactobacillus parabuchneri, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus coryniformis, Lactobacillus buchneri, Pediococcus parvulus and members of the Lactobacillus casei group. Concerning yeasts, the following isolates were identified: Pichia fermentans, Pichia norvegensis, Pichia guilliermondii (synonym Meyerozyma guilliermondii) and Torulaspora spp. A high intra-species diversity was revealed by Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis. In parallel, microbial DNA was directly extracted from the three boza samples, and portions of the rrn operons were analysed through Polymerase Chain Reaction-Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE). The molecular fingerprinting partially confirmed the results of culturing. Among LAB, the species Weissella confusa, Weissella oryzae, Leuconostoc citreum, Lactococcus lactis, Pediococcus parvulus and Pediococcus ethanolidurans were detected together with members of the Lb. casei group. Among the yeasts, the species P. fermentans, M. guilliermondii, Galactomyces geotrichum and Geotrichum fragrans were found. The overall results confirmed boza as having a rich and heterogeneous biodiversity both in terms of species and genetically diverse strains, thus encouraging its exploitation for the isolation and future technological characterisation of cultures to be selected for the manufacture of innovative cereal-based drinks. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 11/2014; 194:62-70.
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    ABSTRACT: Foods of animal origin brought illegally from third party countries into the European Community pose a risk for the introduction of diseases. This can lead to animal disease outbreaks with significant economic and social costs and subsequent severe trade restrictions. Further, disease outbreaks in humans due to illegally imported foods of animal origin have been described, yet, there are very few studies examining the potential human health impact. Passenger baggage is the most likely route by which illegal products enter a country. Therefore, the volume and geographic origin of foods of animal origin introduced illegally into Germany via the Frankfurt International Airport and Berlin-Schönefeld Airport by passenger luggage were characterized. Further, the occurrence of foodborne zoonotic bacteria such as Salmonella spp., Listeria spp., Campylobacter spp., Yersinia spp., Verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) and Brucella spp. and the microbial quality of the foods were analysed by total bacterial count. Between 2012 and 2013, a total of 663 food items were seized from 296 passengers arriving in Germany from 35 different departure countries. The majority of confiscates (51%) originated from Turkey and Russia. A selection of 474 samples was subjected to microbiological analyses. Twenty-three food products tested positive for at least one of the pathogens analysed. The majority of the contaminated foods were meat (33%) or meat products (42%), and milk products (21%). Considering that only a small fraction of arriving passengers is subjected to airport custom controls and only a small number of confiscated foods could be analysed during this study, further investigations are needed to understand the public health risks posed by illegally introduced food items.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Outbreaks of foodborne illness, resulting from the consumption of fresh produce contaminated with human pathogens, are increasing. Potential uptake and persistence of human pathogens within edible parts of consumed fresh vegetables become an important issue in food safety. This study was conducted to assess the potential uptake and internalization of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes from an autoclaved substrate into edible parts of basil and baby salad plants (lettuce, cultivated rocket, wild rocket and corn salad) from 20 to 60–80 days after inoculation, when plants are ready to be harvested and commercialized. Plants were grown in mesocosms under different temperature conditions (24 °C and 30 °C) and the growing substrate was inoculated using contaminated irrigation water (7 log CFU/mL). E. coli O157:H7 could be internalized in the leaves of the tested leafy vegetables through the roots and persist up to the harvesting time with negligible differences between 24 °C and 30 °C. Significant decreases in pathogen titers were observed over time in the growing substrate on which the plants grew, until the last sampling time. In contrast, L. monocytogenes internalized and persisted only in lettuce mesocosms at 24 °C. Neither pathogen was observed in basil leaves. Similarly, in basil growing substrates, enteric bacteria were undetectable at the end of the experiments, suggesting that basil plants may produce and release antimicrobial compounds active against both bacteria in root exudates. These results suggest that enteric bacteria are able to persist within baby salad leaves up to market representing a risk for consumer's health.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 10/2014; 189:139-145.
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    ABSTRACT: B. fulva and N. fischeri are heat-resistant fungi which are a concern to food industries (e.g. apple juice industry) since their growth represents significant economic liabilities. Although the most common method used to assess fungal growth in solid substrates is by measuring the colony’s diameter, it is difficult to apply this method to food substrates. Alternatively, ergosterol contents have been used to quantify fungal contamination in some types of food. The current study aimed at modeling the growth of the heat-resistant fungi B. fulva and N. fischeri by measuring the colony diameter and ergosterol content, fitting the Baranyi and Roberts model to the results, and finally establishing a correlation between the parameters of the two analytical methods. Whereas the colony diameter was measured daily, the quantification of ergosterol was performed when the colonies reached the diameters 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 mm. Results showed that B. fulva and N. fischeri were able to grow successfully on solidified apple juice at 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 °C, and the Baranyi and Roberts model showed good ability to describe growth data. The correlation curves between the parameters of colony diameter and ergosterol content were obtained with satisfactory statistical indexes.
    International Journal of Food Microbiology 10/2014; In press.
  • International Journal of Food Microbiology 10/2014;